Just Listen!

I love godlessgyrl’s post about why Christians don’t listen to people tell their stories about leaving church. She begins this way,

 I used to be a Christian. I’m now an agnostic atheist.

The story of how I got from there to here is a long one. It has a large cast of characters, spans some three decades, and is set in a variety of locations, both exotic and mundane. The plot wanders a bit, but some overarching themes emerge when looking at the whole picture. I am the playwright and the storyteller.

And I’m not going to tell you my story.

I am not going to reveal the details. I am not going to tell you the names of the dramatis personae, nor describe the roles they played. I am not going to tell you how long I was a Christian, or how I became an atheist. I am not going to tell you the plotline, or talk about the common threads and themes I’ve noticed along the way.

Do you know why?

Of course you don’t. So I will tell you.

I am not going to tell you my story for the simple reason that you will not listen….

Go read the rest. Ten bucks most die-hard Christians won’t read it or LISTEN to her story either. (Thanks, Robin, for the link 🙂 )


16 thoughts on “Just Listen!

  1. I refuse to take that bet. 🙂 And she’s correct.

    **You will simply dismiss what I have to say, because it will not align with what your church, your Bible, your pastor, and your ego tells you.** This resonated most with me, because of recent conversations I’ve had. It’s so very true. And this isn’t just with fundamentalists, but with Christians that would consider me ‘unorthodox.’ It’s amazing how quickly one can think that another person hasn’t read the Bible, or had a relationship with God, or any of that. Or just think you’re stupid because you don’t think/believe exactly like them.

    I try and look at the silver lining, and be grateful for the experiences. It’s teaching me to really listen to another person.

  2. Ok Mystery, I’m trusting you here. We here at Surface Earth are having untold technical difficulties tonight. This here is post three and if the other two came through, hit delete and don’t pause.

    Last try Mystery.

    1. Thank you for the link, good stuff, but we couldn’t post there either – yes our inner tech geeks are on vacation; and
    2. What is Christianity if not loving kindness? With that said…down with any religion that does not embrace others; and
    3. I received a request today to help a family raise money for their 13 year old son just diagnosed with leukemia, need I say more?; and
    4. Jessica Torrante, the brilliant artist, posted a fascinating and humbling response on my blog and after that, who needs someone else’s interpretation of God?
    5. If you delete this, we love you anyway Mystery, because you manage to keep us thinking against the tide.


  3. Thanks for that letter – i had not made it that far. Wow, those stories are all great in their own way. Well, I listened, but you know i had to answer and this is what I said:

    I’m a Christian, but perhaps the Christians you are writing about would not consider me one, or if they did, they would say I was prideful or rebellious or somme other label that is meant to marginalize my beliefs. That is until I could reassure them with the secret handhake and show them my decoder ring. For a very long time I did not like telling people I am a Christian not for what I actually believe, but for what others would assume I believe.

    I’m not going to judge you at all. I’m not even going to pray for you because I am afraid you are going to hell. Because even though I am a Christian, I don’t happen to believe that. I don’t believe that religion or its adherence is the authority over what your own heart tells you. You are born alone and you die alone. In the middle, you have to find as much authenticity as you can. That is what I had trouble with… I’m not good at pretending things I don’t feel, and I think organized religion is all about polishing up that flesh and living a lie. I agree with you concerning the goal – to use every human interaction as a chance to manipulate. How icky is that? Do you know what manipulation is? It’s witchcraft. whether you are attempting to manipulate spirits, power, or people you are practicing withcraft. That’s what rituals are, and chanting… it is an attempt to use your will to manipulate through energy force. No wonder you are disgusted. I would be willing to bet that you are a very gentle and loving person with an honest heart. You just don’t want to live a lie; you are just looking for truth, your own truth. And kudos to you, wherever your search may lead, because you can’t live on a borrowed revelation.

  4. SurfaceE,

    I’m not sure what you comment was about. Did you comments get deleted or something? Color me confused…Really! 🙂

    Alot of my usual commenters are ending up in Spam and I’m not sure why. Is that what you mean?

  5. Heather,

    Like godlessgyrl, I have never met a Christian that didn’t respond with the same things she lists in that letter. Never. It’s such a typical response to an assumption about another’s spiritual life that I wonder why any Christian would feel they have permission to question these things? Isn’t that the ultimate in pride and a I-know-what-you-need-more-than-you-do attitude? I’m not saying I’m perfect or don’t do the same thing, but really? Why is it so common? Thanks for the thoughts!

  6. I certainly share godlessgyrl’s experience. A potent example of this non-listening occurred on 9/12/01. I went for a walk, still feeling pretty messy emotionally after the attacks, and when I passed a church, I decided to go inside.

    Stupid, I guess, but some part of me really thought that these people would comfort me. I told them that I was not a seeker (mistake 2?) but that I needed someone to talk to.

    Well, the woman had me follow her into the sanctuary where she proceeded to get down on her knees, ask me to accept the lord, and then speak in tongues for some twenty minutes before I finally got up and walked out (I have no idea what took me so long…).

    So, yeah, I’ve encountered Christians who don’t want to listen.

  7. Maile,
    First, thank you for telling us your story.

    Second, I’m appalled at that woman’s insensitivity! Why do we always think that we have to fill up the space of another’s grief with words and platitudes and formulas? Bleck!

  8. Moi,

    **Isn’t that the ultimate in pride and a I-know-what-you-need-more-than-you-do attitude? I’m not saying I’m perfect or don’t do the same thing, but really? Why is it so common?** I think one of the reasons it’s so common is due to the fear. If that list of excuses is used as to why a person ‘fell away,’ then the person still firm in the faith feels a sense of safety — it won’t happen to the Christian (note: I use Christian in the same sense that the letter did, which is along the fundamentalist route).

    Whereas if the Christian admits that there are some rational reasons for falling away, or honestly tries to understand the perspective of the one who did fall away, that could cause a crack in the faith, and make the Christian realize that s/he, too, could fall away.

    When I think about it, it was very clever for the letters such as Hebrews to describe those who fell away, or for Paul to say that the Gospel is only foolishness to the wise, because it’s almost producing a sense of superiority, and giving Christians a way to justify why others do fall away, rather than questioning if there’s a good, genuine reason for leaving the faith.

  9. Maile… what that woman did was CREEPY!!! I never did get into that whole speaking in tongues gibberish crap. Always gave me the creeps!

    MOI & Heather – you are right on when you say it is fear, and fear on several levels. It is the fear of being rejected by people who you know will no longer be your friends if you disagree with their “Christian” worldview (I use quotes because as a Christian I reject their world view!). It is fear on the part of those who do the rejecting because they fear being infected – so what kind of faith do you have if someone else can shake it? It’s the living on a borrowed revelation kind!
    And the other kind of fear is fear of not being special, or chosen by god, which is ironic, because when you chose to let someone else define your relationship with god (or the Universe or Higher Power or Godde), you do not allow yourself to HAVE your own revelation, and so your spirit (or soul or mind) stagnates, and you die spiritually, so all you have left is making yourself feel better by tearing down others, or being a better pretender, so at least you look better in other people’s eyes. It is all vanity.

  10. FEAR!

    That is it in a nutshell. They don’t listen because of Fear.
    Fear that by really listening to a skeptic or a former believer’s doubts, they may hear things which they don’t want to hear, and might actually agree with.
    Fear that some of the things they hold so dear just may not actually be true at all.
    Fear that by acknowledging your doubts as real, or as having some merit, that they then may begin to have doubts of .
    Fear that those who begin to doubt are headed down the road to hell.
    Fear that their family will shun them.
    Fear that their community will shun them.

    Therefore they can’t acknowledge that your doubts have any validity, less it began to call into question their own blind faith, or bring to light some real problems in the faith to begin with. To really discuss doubts and the reasons why you left, and to really listen is like admitting that there may be some problems. Not going to do that, so like any other cult, anywhere in the world, you simply must be re-assimilated to the blind faith. Not that there is something wrong about the faith, it is always something wrong with YOU.

  11. Fear that if they give any place to doubt that Satan will steal their soul and that they too will burn in hell… as if that were really possible.

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